Josh Hamilton did something last night that he had not done since July 10, 2013. Last night, Hamilton hit two home runs in a game for the first time in nearly two years. Knuckleballer Steven Wright was on the hill for the Boston Red Sox. The Texas Rangers outfielder is apparently a big fan of the knuckleball.
Here’s what Hamilton did to two of Wright’s floaters. I don’t know what type of player Hamilton is at the age of 34, but if these two swings are any indication, the Rangers should benefit quite nicely from the Los Angeles Angels’ decision to sever ties with Hamilton.
These two home runs were vintage Hamilton. Hamilton does not so much as hit home runs. Rather, he lashes them viciously with a line drive stroke. His home runs have a trajectory all their own, and few other Major Leaguers come close to hitting Hamilton-esque home runs.
Watch all the way to the end of the first home run video. The look on Hamilton’s face as he is surrounded by his teammates is one of pure joy. Here is a man who is beginning to find peace again, to feel loved, after struggling so long with inner demons and turmoil. That dugout, full of teammates like Elvis Andrus who are ready to jump up and pound Hamilton on the back, is what will get him through anything he is dealing with.
Good on the Rangers and the people of Arlington for embracing Hamilton and helping him to begin the healing process as he continues to work through his personal issues. Hamilton gave the city plenty of reason to say “good riddance” with his comments on the way out the door, but just look at that crowd’s reaction to a second inning solo home run. Those fans clearly understood the special moment taking place in front of them last night.
Hamilton never quite had this type of support in Los Angeles, and this was made crystal clear in the way that the Angels and their owner handled his cocaine relapse. Los Angeles is a different type of city than the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and Hamilton never appeared comfortable in the City of Angels. While it is no New York City, playing in Los Angeles presents a different set of circumstances than the average Major League city, and Hamilton just was not up for the task. Now, he is back with the organization where he belongs.
The issues that Hamilton is dealing with — namely addiction — are not easy to understand. You cannot so easily wipe away the stain of this disease with a full bank account as some have suggested. Yes, Josh Hamilton makes a lot of money. That does not make him immune to the pressures felt by every single human walking this planet. If anything, the stage he has been given intensifies those pressures.
I am not here to make excuses for Josh Hamilton, just as I am not here to make excuses for any addict. They battle constantly with right and wrong, but it is ultimately up to them to overcome with the help of others. What I am here to do is offer support and understanding. I want to see Josh Hamilton do well in Texas, just as much as I want to see the patient entering rehab for the third time or the alcoholic with one month of sobriety prosper.
I am not a fan of the baseball player Josh Hamilton. I am a fan of the human Josh Hamilton. We are each given our own set of personal issues to deal with in life. Josh Hamilton has his and I mine. Who am I, then, to judge him for his struggles?
So, here’s to you, Josh Hamilton. Keep delivering nights like this. Keep yourself out of trouble, and keep that sour look plastered to Arte Moreno’s face.
Follow Josh Sadlock on Twitter: @JoshSadlock